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Seal off borders, shut down illegal shops to stop coronavirus upsurge in mining districts- Miners Association

The Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) in Friday blamed government for poor border enforcement and allowing illegal shops as main reasons for the upsurge of the coronavirus, COVID-19, in mining districts.

The association appealed to the authorities to take decisive action to stop the spread of the virus. “It appears that the COVID-19 is being spread at our borders which remain porous because of lax enforcement of crossings and other border control measures, this must be addressed immediately by the authorities,” the association said in a statement.

The GGDMA says those workers are not directly involved in or associated with mining or specific operations but are at mining landings and where miners dwell. The GGDM says the increased number of Coronavirus cases in mining districts are mainly at  illegal cross-border activity by workers who move from place-to-place and that the upsurge in the number of coronavirus cases is not directly linked to mining or specific operations.

While appealing to legal shop owners not to allow social gatherings or the consumption of food and drinks on premises but only permit customers to purchase and leave as well as abide by the 5 AM to 6 AM curfew, the GGDMA called for a crackdown on illegal shops. “The GGDMA is against illegal shops which encourage mining workers to flaunt the COVID-19 guidelines and breaches the curfew. These illegal shops must be removed. We call on the relevant authorities to assist in this regard,” the association said.

The GGDMA’s finger-pointing comes as government’s National COVID-19 Task Force has announced plans to seal off several mining areas where there is an upsurge in reported COVID-19 fingers. The association hinted that it has been left out of the decision-making process. The GGDMA says it recognises the increasing spread of the virus and would like to be engaged by the COVID-19 Steering Committee on whatever decisions are being made for the gold and diamond mining industry of Guyana to help alleviate this disease.

The Public Health Ministry has identified mining areas in Region 1 (Barima-Waini) and Region 7 (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) where increased cases of the virus has been reported.

The countrywide death toll remains at 12.

The association calls on all miners to strictly abide by the measures in place to prevent the spread of the virus and to avoid congregating unnecessarily at public spaces.

Camp managers were also urged to follow guidelines and enforce the rules established by the Public Health Ministry and the Pan-American Health Organisation-World Health Organisation to ensure safety at mining camps.

The Association restated that it has been working with PAHO to craft guidelines for the mining sector.